To your elders and juniors, men and women, family members, and friends, you should impart my teachings. Discipline and reflect upon yourself. Be in harmony and conform with justice and truth. Be happy, compassionate, and filial. If your action is a transgression, feel remorse about the offense. Eradicate evil and cultivate virtue. When you learn about a fault of yours in the morning, correct it by evening.
“To your elders and juniors, men and women, family members, and friends, you should impart my teachings.”
“Elders” refers to our parents or seniors. “Juniors” refers to our children, nephews and nieces, or anyone younger than ourselves. “Men and women, family members, and friends” refers to our relatives, from our family to the family clan, and then to distant relatives and friends.
When we follow the Buddha’s teachings, practice accordingly, and receive the true, wondrous benefits of Buddhism, we should also do our best to introduce Buddhism to others and urge them to learn. When they benefit from the learning, they will also teach others. This way, we will truly repay the kindness of the Buddha. Urge and encourage others to learn this true teaching. Introduce and recommend it to a town, a city, a country, and even the world. Then society will be in harmony and the world will be at peace.
Great Master Yinguang once held a “Protecting the Country and Averting Disasters Dharma Ceremony” in Shanghai. He clearly explained how to protect the country and avert disasters—mindfully chant the Buddha-name and maintain a vegetarian diet. When everyone maintains a vegetarian diet and mindfully chants the Buddha-name, disasters will naturally be averted and the country will naturally be protected. Therefore, we should spread this teaching to the whole world. This is truly repaying the Four Kinds of Kindness above, and relieving the suffering of those in the Three Paths below. This is protecting the world and eliminating disasters.
There are many ways to spread the Buddha’s teachings. For example, one could print the sutras and give them to others or circulate cassette tapes, video tapes, CDs, and video discs on Dharma lectures. One does one’s best to help others. As for oneself, one should sincerely chant the Buddhaname and seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. But one should not force others to have the same aspiration. One only needs to help others to (1) have a good heart, (2) say kind words, (3) do good deeds, and (4) have a happy family.
“Discipline and reflect upon yourself. Be in harmony and conform with justice and truth. Be happy, compassionate, and filial.” These words are well said. They are not only for our cultivation. When introducing Buddhism to others, we should teach not only with words but also with exemplary behavior. If we teach only with words but cannot practice what we teach, others may not believe us or accept the teachings. We must truly practice the teachings so as to really help others build confidence.
“Discipline and reflect upon yourself.” One’s thoughts, spoken words, and behavior should accord with the teachings in the sutras. One should discipline oneself and reflect on one’s behavior and thoughts.
“Be in harmony and conform with justice and truth.” One should be amiable and get along harmoniously with others. “Harmony” refers to the Six Harmonies. “Conform” refers to being in accordance with all beings. Harmony and conformity should not be based on emotions but on justice and truth. There is a principle that one should follow when one accords with others: while according with others, one should inspire and change them. If one cannot help others awaken and reform, one should not indulge them.
“Be happy, compassionate, and filial.” Children should be filial to their parents, and parents should love their children. The family will be happy. This is the foundation. Families make up a society. Societies make up a country. Countries make up the world. Therefore, we should know that the origin of happiness is family.
Happiness is also the most basic requirement in one’s interacting with others and engaging in tasks. As the Mahayana sutras say: wherever bodhisattvas go, they make all beings happy. The bodhisattvas absolutely do not have any thought of, let alone commit any act of, harming others. This is why they are happy, and so is everyone else.
“Compassion” is impartial and pure. All of Buddha’s teachings are developed from filial piety. In Buddhism, filial piety, since the past, has no beginning and into the future, has no end. It extends through time in the three time periods and through space in the ten directions. The entire universe is oneself. It is one entity.
“If your action is a transgression, feel remorse about the offense. Eradicate evil and cultivate virtue. When you learn about a fault in the morning, correct it by evening.”
“As people are not sages, how can they be faultless? When a person becomes aware of a fault and corrects it, there is no virtue greater than this.” [This Confucian quote tells us that] the greatest virtue is correcting faults, which is the teaching of the sages. If one is aware of one’s faults, one is awakened. Cultivation is correcting one’s faults, and correcting one’s faults is cultivation. Being aware of one’s faults is awakening, and correcting one’s faults is true cultivation. When our thoughts, views, spoken words, and behavior are wrong, we should repent. Repentance is not about seeking the forgiveness of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Rather, sincerely admit one’s wrongdoings, completely correct them, and never make the same mistakes again.
“Eradicate evil and cultivate virtue. When you learn about a fault of yours in the morning, correct it by evening.” This describes truly regretting one’s mistakes. One should awaken quickly and correct one’s faults quickly. When one realizes a fault, one should correct it immediately.